I’m currently a junior (16yo) in California, and recently I’ve decided that I might want to become a pilot. Only problem is, I’m not exactly sure how to begin. I know I want to go to college, but what should I study there, and when should I begin flight certifications? What’s the difference between each certification, and which ones do I need at what stages? Would it be better to go to a dedicated flight school (like ATP), or college then a flight school? I’m very confused. Any help would be appreciated.
No problem on being confused, you came to the right place to get your questions answered.
To begin with, you will need a four year degree from a college or university to be hired at the major airlines like United or American. Your major really does not matter, mine is in business, many people have degrees in finance, history, english, etc and of course you can always major in aviation. As long as the major is not totally off the wall you will be fine.
I actually do not recommend majoring in aviation because it does not provide you with any kind of a back up should flying not work out for some reason. In theory at least I have a business degree that I could fall back on.
After college I would then recommend attending a fast track flight school like ATP. In a school such as ATP you will earn your private, instrument, commercial and various flight instructor ratings, all of which you will need. After flight school most new pilots fly as flight instructors to help build their flight time up to the FAA required 1500 hours for the airlines.
Of course there are other routes as well such as the military, which can be a great way to go, and going to an aviation university, which I recommend against because of the incredibly high cost that is often associated with that route.
In my experience college followed by fast track flight training is the best path to the airlines.
Thanks so much for the answer! I don’t think I’d want to go the military route, that just doesn’t seem like it’d be a good idea for me. Would it be a good idea to go for a private pilot license while in college to cut down what I have to learn in a fast-track, or should I just wait and go the 0-experience route?
I actually got my private while I was in college, I did not feel that it did me much good at all. It ended up distracting from my college studies and then by the time I started ATP I was a bit rusty on the material. My vote is to just wait and start with no flight time, you will find this easier and it will likely cost less in the end.